Red Sox

Give the Red Sox time, patience can pay off

Give the Red Sox time, patience can pay off

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — If the lineup looks the same on Opening Day, set off on a tantrum. For now, just keep your anger primed in the queue. Maybe even prepare for an eventuality of relief and excitement.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is moving with discipline. Even if some of his process this winter has been questionable, he’s still taking a measured approach rather than setting a match to an already shriveling farm system and payroll. 

Discipline requires waiting, and the lull invites frustration for those who want everything now.

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“Even though some things are starting to happen, there’s a lot to still be done over the winter time,” Dombrowski said Wednesday.

He’s right.

As a Sox fan, you can’t have it both ways. Either you want Dombrowski to act responsibly with the sustainability of the franchise in mind, or you want all the big names now, now, now — and are keen on an inevitably disastrous roster. 

The Sox have had a lot of big splashes in recent years. They have to move cautiously in waters this deep. As one executive put it recently: “Only horrible organizations keep spending and spending and spending.”

Here’s betting fans will be rewarded this winter with an upgraded lineup to feel good about, even if the Sox haven’t crossed the finish line yet. 

“Every time we have a meeting we talk about [timing]. Some players are going to start signing pretty soon,” Dombrowski said. “And some players that we have interest in, we’ll start signing pretty soon. And if you wait, you lose some players that you may have interest in.”

One thing is for sure — and it appears to be getting lost even with big names like J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer still out there — just because the Red Sox haven’t completed a deal, they are doing a ton of work behind the scenes.

"I think we're closer to getting answers on some things,” Dombrowski said Wednesday. “There have been a couple of things, calls we've made and heard from people that have eliminated us and some have kept us in there. But I can't say that I'm any closer to getting things done other than gathering continued information — because I don't know what happens with other clubs. I don't know where they stand with their conversations with other teams. There’s still a lot, so many conversations going on, and a lot of different possibilities, a lot of different trade things happening so I'm not really sure. 

“I think we've got a pulse of what's happening and I don't think anything's happened that's surprised us so far, but there haven't been that many things that have happened either. A lot of relievers have signed, that's been the biggest thing and that hasn't been our biggest thing that we're pursuing.”

(Whether they should be pursuing it with a little more aggressiveness is worth a thought, however.) 

- The Sox were keeping tabs on Marcell Ozuna, the Marlins outfielder who was traded to the Cardinals.

“We asked about him and they called me back beforehand, just to let me know,” Dombrowski said of the Marlins. “So we were in the mix enough to do that.”

Ozuna could have done some DH’ing and also played outfield. Dombrowski noted the Marlins got upper-level pitching in the trade. He didn’t specifically note that the Red Sox don’t have as much upper-level pitching to offer, but that is the case.

- The Sox have talked “generalities” with free agents when it comes to contract terms, Dombrowski said. 

- Dombrowski said bringing back free agent Eduardo Nunez is on his radar.

- Super agent Scott Boras on Wednesday defended J.D. Martinez’s defense, which isn’t generally well regarded. Boras also talked about the "prestige value" of Eric Hosmer, another client.

- Boras said the Red Sox have not told him it’s their intention to trade Jackie Bradley Jr.

Comparing Chris Sale to '04, '07, and '13 Red Sox aces

Comparing Chris Sale to '04, '07, and '13 Red Sox aces

For the next few days, we'll be reminiscing on 2004, 2007, and 2013 Red Sox champions at each position and seeing how they stack up against their 2018 counterparts. Today, we discuss the aces of the starting rotations. . .

Curt Schilling, 2004

Regular season: 21-6, 3.26 ERA, 203 SO

Playoffs: 3-1, 3.57 ERA

Year in summary: The highlight of Curt Schilling's 2004 season came in Game 6 of the ALCS, AKA the "Bloody Sock Game." While that game undoubtedly will live on forever in Red Sox history, Schilling's dominance throughout his first season in Boston shouldn't be overlooked. 

Josh Beckett, 2007

Regular season: 20-7, 3.27 ERA, 194 SO

Playoffs: 4-0, 1.20 ERA

Year in summary:  Josh Beckett enjoyed a stellar 2007 regular season, but his postseason performance was one for the ages. Beckett finished second in Cy Young award voting behind then-Indians ace CC Sabathia.

Jon Lester, 2013

Regular season: 15-8, 3.75 ERA, 177 SO

Playoffs: 4-1, 1.56 ERA

Year in summary: 2013 wasn't the best statistical season of Lester's Red Sox career, but it sure was the sweetest. That's because the left-hander turned back into his shutdown self in the postseason and was a key part of Boston bringing home its third World Series title in nine years.

Chris Sale, 2018

Regular season: 12-4, 2.00 ERA, 229 SO

Year in summary: Chris Sale (per usual) has enjoyed a dominant regular season, particularly in the first half. Shoulder inflammation limited the Red Sox southpaw in the second half, but the perennial Cy Young candidate finally looks ready to help the winningest team in Sox history win when it matters most.

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Playoff debates: Why Red Sox should choose Eovaldi over E-Rod in rotation

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AP Photo

Playoff debates: Why Red Sox should choose Eovaldi over E-Rod in rotation

With the playoffs approaching, Evan Drellich will look at various decisions the Red Sox are going to have to make on their postseason roster. We start today with: The rotation.

BOSTON — Nate Eovaldi may keep his spot in the rotation for the same reason the Red Sox move forward without a lefty specialist in the 'pen: the number of scary lefty bats the Sox can face in the first round are minimal.

The Yankees and A’s are righty heavy, and Eovaldi in particular would probably be preparing for a scenario to pitch on the road. The Sox have seen up close how the Yankees can just wait back and drive lefty pitches out to right field.

Since joining the Red Sox, Eovaldi leads the team in the fewest percentage of fly balls to become home runs, at 5.5 percent, regardless of lefty-righty match-ups. E-Rod is nearly double that, at 10.6 percent.

“One of the teams we know, we know really well,” Alex Cora said on Monday generally. “The other one, we don’t know honestly. So we’ll talk about it. But I think small sample size really doesn’t matter.”

Eovaldi’s final pitch Monday night against the Orioles was a backdoor cutter to Cedric Mullins, who went down looking. Mullins, a switch-hitter, was batting lefthanded. It was an excellent night overall for the right-handed and cutter-heavy Eovaldi in a 6-2 win, even though he was facing a terrible team. He had 10 strikeouts in five innings.

Eduardo Rodriguez following Eovaldi in relief on Monday was also a clear signal the Red Sox are looking at keeping Eovaldi in the Division Series rotation and taking E-Rod out.

“I really had everything working today,” Eovaldi said. “I was able to locate the fastball up. Had a really good feel for my curveball, my split today. So with those two pitches, being able to get them off my fastball and the cutter, I felt like it’s a good success tonight.”

Both historically and in 2018, Eovaldi has been better vs. right-handed batters, who carry a .631 OPS against him this season. Lefties (and switch-hitters) are his potential weakness, with a .751 OPS. The numbers in Eovaldi’s time in Boston and in his career are virtually identical, a roughly .100 point OPS gap.

Will that really matter in the Division Series?

The Yankees have Aaron Hicks and Neil Walker as switch-hitters. Hicks has an .837 OPS vs. righties, Walker a .693 OPS. 

The Yanks’ best threat purely from the left side, Didi Gregorious and his .864 OPS against righties, may be out for the season. Brett Gardner, meanwhile, has got a .704 OPS against righties.

“We don't know who we're going to play, but we understand the match-ups and where we can go,” Cora said when asked if Eovaldi is making a case to stay in the rotation. “He’s been great. He's a guy that, first of all, he's a workhorse. We can use him out of the bullpen, and then we can use him in the rotation. I love the fact that his last two outings, they made some adjustments, and he's actually pitching to what we wanted, up in the zone and down, so he's making it very interesting now.”

Matt Olson and Nick Martini of the A’s both have done well as lefties vs. righties this year, the former with an .828 OPS and the latter .824. Switch-hitter Jed Lowrie’s right there with them at .846.

So the A's might make the choice a little tougher than the Yankees. But the biggest bats on both teams — Khris Davis and Matt Chapman, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton — are righty, and righties aren't the reason to remove Eovaldi.

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